fighting fire with fire

My hero and friend, Hugh Hollowell, shared this on his Facebook page yesterday. It troubles, motivates, moves me. And scares the mess out of me, to be perfectly honest. I’m still wrapping my brain and heart around it. But it’s not going anywhere. It sits patiently, staring, unblinking waiting on me to get it. And to STAND UP.

“Few are guilty. All are responsible.” – Abraham Herschel

People are burning down churches. Black churches. Houses of God. For a moment I wondered if the person or people responsible really think they are accomplishing what they are setting out to do. I also have struggled with my responsibility in this. I didn’t burn those churches. But on some level, I am responsible. What do I do with that? How do I go about rebuilding those churches?

I’m not sure. But I want to talk about it. About the reparations. Of buildings, spirits, and hearts. And relationships. Now is not the time to be pointing fingers and drawing lines in the sand. Now is not the time to divide and attack each other. History says “divide and conquer” works. We shall not be conquered and bow down before hatred. No. Never.

And so this image has been going through my mind today. The one that I learned about when I was young–of how forest fires are often fought. They light a backfire to burn all of the brush. One that they can control. So that when the raging fire gets there, there is nothing there for it to consume, and it will die out. And it was that image that brought these words to mind.

fighting fire with fire

the gas was poured and the match lit
seeking to burn down the building
and the spirits of those who gathered there

it was done in hatred and loathing
and brokenness and pain
a lashing out at others
in an attempt to trample the spirits
of those who are different
than the one who sought to burn

but the backfire was already lit
long, long ago
in the passion and love of those who once gathered
in that holy hall
and sang to the rafters their praises
these flames of love had already been burning
long before hate came to destroy

and those flames will keep burning
high and mighty
licking the sky
quelling the fire of hate
as it approaches
the sound of voices raised in love
and grace
and forgiveness
will drown out the roar
of the flames of prejudice

love will rebuild
and restore
and regroup

love will put the flames
of hurt and destruction out
and every time that match is lit
the eternal flame of love
will burn it out

each and every time

love will recreate
love will use what was meant for evil
and shine through the ashes of all
that was lost

like the rays of the morning sun
gently stirring the souls awake
love will awaken the flames of
all that is good
in each person, one by one,

until in the end,
love wins

By 4028mdk09 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By 4028mdk09 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
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